A Chalet School Othello by Eleanore

The Chalet School staff very helpfully put on a production of Othello to help me with my literature essay.

Categories: St Clare's House Characters: CBB member, Hilda Annersley, Jo (Bettany) Maynard, Kathie Ferrars, Nancy Wilmot, Nell Wilson
School Period: Switzerland
School Name: Chalet School
Genre: Alternate Universe
Series: Chalet School Shakespeare
Chapters: 3 Completed: Yes Word count: 1117 Read: 7433 Published: 09 Jul 2011 Updated: 09 Jul 2011
Story Notes:

This is another piece of essay-induced idiocy. People really shouldn't make me write essays, I'm convinced it's bad for me.

1. Casting by Eleanore

2. Rehearsal by Eleanore

3. Lines by Eleanore

Casting by Eleanore

Following on from jayj's helpful subtext suggestion, Kathie felt I might find my essay more interesting if she presented me with a full cast production of Othello.

I believe now she rather wishes she'd never thought of it.

As soon as she heard what was going on, Nell demanded the part of Iago, arguing that as she apparently still scares Kathryn, it was only right that she be allowed to play the villain. She got her way - I think there are moments when Nell rather scares Kathie, too. Nancy, as the director's favourite, was naturally cast as Othello - to which our poor little drama queen objected, as she wanted to play a nice character with a happy ending. When Ruth (who sensibly decided to have nothing to do with this madness) pointed out that there were no nice characters with happy endings in Othello, Nancy went off in what looked suspiciously like a sulk, at which point the director informed her that she was well on the way to not being the favourite any more.

Joey, who by rights shouldn't be in the play at all, has cast herself as Desdemona and no one can talk her out of it - although about five people are trying. On hearing of this, Biddy and Hilary came along to demand parts on their own account and, as Roderigo and Cassio respectively, are now embroiled in an argument with Peggy Burnett, who feels that only current staff should be included in this production. This ideological standpoint may have something to do with the fact that Peggy herself has merely been cast as the Messenger.

Nancy offered to swap roles and let Peggy be Othello, but was firmly told that, as the favourite of both the director and the intended audience, there was no way she was going to be allowed to get away with anything less than a major role. Nancy tried pointing out that Emilia, whilst not having many lines, was a fairly important role - only to be informed that the part of Emilia had already gone to Hilda, who was at that very moment busily cutting from Emilia's speeches anything which might not be suitable for the ears of well-brought-up Chalet School girls, and thereby reducing her role to something only marginally more significant than Peggy's Messenger. Kathie did attempt to argue that Eleanore, as the intended audience, was not a well-brought-up Chalet School girl, and probably knew far more about unsuitable things than Hilda herself, but Hilda replied that it was never too late to become a true Chalet School girl, citing Nancy as an example of someone whose true Chaletness didn't appear until well into adulthood, and Kathie gave up both her argument and her will to live.

Matey has been given the part of Brabantio, and so far seems to be the only cast member not to cause the director any grief - although this is possibly because Kathie is still too much in awe of Matey to dream of objecting (at least, in her hearing) to anything Matey might choose to do. Sharlie makes a less-than-impressive Duke, and was not cast for her acting abilities but rather because, by that point, Kathie was simply relieved to find someone who would do as they were told without argument.

Rosalie is doing her best to act as prompter, but Hilda and her red pen have moved on to censoring the rest of the script, so Rosalie is frequently finding herself prompting people with lines that are suddenly no longer part of the play, to the great surprise of the director who has not authorized any editing of the text and who is starting to wonder whether the final production will bear any resemblance to Othello at all.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, Kathie is now tearing her hair, and wishing loudly and frequently that she could go back to directing Middles in the Christmas play. She had originally intended to direct The Rover as well, but I believe she is now rethinking this.

End Notes:

My next essay after this one is on The Taming of the Shrew, and I really want Kathie to direct that, but I'm not mentioning it to her until after she's recovered from this Othello fiasco.

Rehearsal by Eleanore
Author's Notes:

Given that my essay deadline is looming, and the CS Othello seems increasingly unlikely to make it as far as an actual performance, Kathie allowed me a brief glimpse of this morning's rehearsal...

"Joey! What are you playing at? Desdemona's supposed to be a gentle creature who's resigned herself to accepting whatever Othello may choose to do. She would not fight back like that!"

Joey looked over her shoulder at the despairing director. "You said I could put up a struggle if I wanted."

"I said you didn't have to be entirely passive. I did not say you could start a pillow fight - and I certainly didn't give you permission to pin Nancy to the bed!" Kathie turned to the other participant in this scene. "As for you, Nance, may I remind you that you're supposed to be playing Othello? What on earth possessed you to give in to her like that?"

Nancy produced a highly-suspicious look of wide-eyed innocence as she gazed up at her partner. "Habit?" she suggested demurely.

With a glare that even Miss Annersley could not have bettered, Kathie swung round to look at the rest of the cast who, after Nancy's comment, were chuckling audibly. "As for you lot-" Words appeared to fail her and she threw up her hands in exasperation.

Lines by Eleanore

Nancy was apologising most persuasively. In fact, so fervent was she that Kathie had by this point almost forgotten just what Nancy was apologising for. Almost. After all, a penitent Nancy was a sight she rather enjoyed, and she fully intended revisiting this topic at great length in some more private location.

At the moment, however, her appreciation of Nancy's apologies was being somewhat hampered by the fact that, on the stage, Othello seemed to have deviated rather from anything that Shakespeare might have recognised...

"I didn't say a word that wasn't in my lines." Nell positively radiated self-righteousness.

"Indeed?" Hilda's tone was icy. "I distinctly remember cutting those words you were dwelling on so lovingly."

"Not in my script." Nell waved her pristine copy aloft in triumph.

"If you were a lady," Hilda commented scathingly, "you wouldn't dream of using such words."

"If you were a lady," Nell retorted, "you wouldn't know what they meant in the first place."

Hilda was fuming. "You were just looking for an excuse to say it, weren't you? I know you, Nell. I expect the only reason you wanted that part was so you'd have the opportunity to call me... that."

"Of course it wasn't!" Nell sounded truly shocked. "I also wanted to be able to call you a-"

"Enough!" Kathie interrupted in strident tones.

"Nell said-"

"But Hilda-"

Unluckily for the two actresses, Kathie was in no mood to listen to protests, particularly given that Nancy seemed to be in the process of experimenting with an intriguingly new form of apology. "Hilda, Nell, I don't care which of you says what, as long as it appears in some version of Shakespeare's text!"

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